How to Calculate Your Own Gold Price Projection

It’s true for almost any commodity: there are a lot of influences pushing on the price, and it’s hard to untangle them all. But gold is exceptional. A single factor dominates the market price – and you can measure it. Casey Research’s Jeff Clark shows you how.

More than any other commodity, gold’s price rises (and falls) with demand from investors; the demand from consumers and industrial users is very much a secondary consideration. Or to put it another way, what ultimately controls gold is mass psychology.

If you were an investor during the Internet craze, do you recall the absolute hysteria about NASDAQ stocks? Do you remember how everyone knew about them? Do you recall the excited banter about the latest Internet company you heard at work, at home, or with friends? Do you remember the stories of people getting rich almost overnight? I still remember a news report saying that local officials at Lake Tahoe were worried because all the dot-com millionaires from Silicon Valley were buying up lakefront property and building wall-to-wall mansions, blocking everyone else’s view.

Those companies weren’t really worth 400 times earnings, and many had no earnings at all. Yet most such stocks didn’t just double or triple, but increased by a factor of 10 or more. There were Internet stocks that went up 100 fold.

Is this happening to gold right now?

Hardly. The general public is nearly indifferent to gold – which is evidence that the Mania stage is still in front of us, and it foretells the kind of hysteria that will come as the economy’s troubles deepen. Except that tomorrow’s mania for gold investments will be stronger than yesterday’s mania for Internet stocks. With gold, we won’t just have the greed factor, we’ll also have the fear, or flight to quality, factor banging on the price.

If this is true, is it possible to project how high mass psychology could push gold? And just as importantly, is there a way to determine when you should sell? Predictions abound, but talk is just too easy. So I’ve devised a simple method for you to calculate, for yourself, where the price of gold will peak, so you’ll know when to sell.

To get your personal gold score, take this 2-minute quiz about what you read and what you hear from the people you know. Here’s the key to score each answer you give:

– If an answer is zer Score 1 point
– If an answer is between 1% and 10%: Score no points
– If an answer is above 10%: Take away one point

Personal Gold Score Quiz:

1. Of all your family members, what percentage have told you they own gold in any form?

Nobody: Score 1.

Some but not more than 10%: Score 0.

More than 10%: Score -1.

2. Of all your friends, how many have told you they’ve purchased gold or gold stocks? Score 1, 0 or -1.

3. Of all your co-workers, how many have discussed anything positive related to gold? Score 1, 0 or -1.

4. Of the neighbors you talk with regularly, how many have initiated conversation about any topic centering on gold? Score 1, 0 or -1.

5. How many conversations have you had with any other party (at work, at a gym, on an airplane, after a religious service, etc.) who spoke positively about gold in any way? Score 1, 0 or -1.

6. Excluding any gold-related websites or publications you regularly read, what percentage of all the materials you read (magazines, newspapers, online articles, etc.) discuss gold in a positive way? Score 1, 0 or -1.

7. What percentage of the investment vehicles available through your company’s IRA, 401k or other retirement plan include something explicitly related to gold? Score 1, 0 or -1.

Add up your score, and then multiply it by gold’s current price (let’s use $900 per ounce). And there’s your personal forecast for gold’s price peak. Excluding my co-workers at Casey Research, my total was 5, which gives me a personal gold forecast of $4,500. So maybe, just maybe, I’ll be selling when gold hits $4,500.

Of course, this is hardly a precise or scientific way to calculate where gold is going. But it draws on a critically important point, and I bet you’re thinking the same thing I am: I know hardly anyone who owns gold! Which means, of course, there are a lot of people who have yet to buy it…and a lot of funds that have yet to include it…and a lot of magazines and newspapers that have yet to cover it. Which means there’s a long way up for gold yet.

Recall the Internet craze, substitute gold in its place, and voila – it’s easy to see how gold goes to the moon on mass psychology alone. I’m confident that day is coming.

The current dip is calling. Will you benefit from it?


Jeff Clark
for The Daily Reckoning
August 14, 2008

Jeff Clark is the editor of BIG GOLD, a Casey Research publication that pinpoints the safest ways to capitalize on the gold bull market. The next issue includes an interview with Doug Casey; learn what made Doug such a spectacularly successful gold investor, and where he sees gold and gold stocks going in the near future.

The trouble with following the financial news is that there is so much of it. Everyday brings news information, new facts, new theories – dozens of them. The financial news becomes like a dense Russian novel, with so many characters coming and going that we forget the plot.

Of course, if you’re reading Dostoevsky this summer, you can always stop, flip back and figure out what is going on. In the financial markets you can never stop. The news just keeps coming…the absurd character keep popping up…the intrigues and sub-plots get denser and more confused.

And yet, it’s in the financial markets that the plot really matters.

A serious investor is probably better off with neither television nor newspapers to distract him. In fact, he would probably be better off never reading The Daily Reckoning either. It would force him to pay attention to only what he actually knows or can find out. He might study a local bank, for example…meet its management, explore its ledgers, and parse its financial statements. He might find that it is a good investment – or a bad one. In so doing, he is much more likely to be right than the fellow who reads Barron’s and decides that it is a good time to get back into the bank shares.

But here at The Daily Reckoning, we are not investors. Our job is to keep an eye on the financial news and try to make sense of it. It is a vast and confusing story; our mission is to try to keep track of the main plot.

Yesterday brought more complicating details. The Dow sold off another 109 points. Oil rose $3.44. The dollar was up slightly…still at $1.49 per euro. And the price of gold leaped up $16.90. The 10-year T-note rose to yield 3.94%.

We suggested a possible plot outline yesterday:

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl go on spending spree. Wall Street and Washington collude to cause them to spend more than they could afford and to go much further into debt than they should. Boy and girl can’t pay their debts; they’re losing their houses. The moneybags who lent to them are going bust.

Subplot: Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, the foreigners who kept selling them gadgets and gizmos are running into trouble. So, they’re buying less stuff to make gadgets and gizmos with. And, wouldn’t you know it, the people who sell them stuff – oil, copper, coal and so forth – are also running low on cash, because the price of their stuff is falling.

As the curtain went down last week, it looked as though the whole world economy were sinking into a soft, slow, Japan-like mud.

The storyline seems solid enough. The facts seem to fit more or less. But we have a strong feeling that there are more twists and turns in this plot…and that, when the show is over, the story will turn out be very different.

In the first place, the boys and girls may be in bigger trouble than we’ve seen so far – and there may be more of them.

"Skies Darken for Retailing as Spree Fades," says a headline in the Wall Street Journal. U.S. retail sales fell in July for the first time in five months. Rising sales were misleading anyway; they were more a reflection of higher prices and rebate checks than of an actual increase in either the consumers’ willingness or ability to spend more.

Meredith Whitney, one of the few professional analysts who foresaw the subprime crisis, says that the downturn will be more severe than people yet realize. One in ten households overextended itself in the bubble period, she points out. Bankruptcy, default, and foreclosure rates will inevitably worsen as these Jacks and Jills roll down the hill.

Toll Bros., one of the country’s biggest builders, announced that revenues were still going down.

Anyone waiting for the financial industry to return to the glory days of 2006 may have a long wait. As a credit-fueled boom turns into a bubble, it takes more and more lending to produce an additional increment of GDP growth. In the real boom years after WWII, it took about $1.40 worth of credit to produce $1 worth of GDP growth. The ratio rose sharply after the Reagan Revolution…and now stands at about $6 of credit to every extra dollar of GDP. Of course, that is why Wall Street made so much money – it was selling credit. But it’s also why that story is history; that show is over. As the cost of growth – in terms of credit – rises, so does the cost in terms of debt service. Even at 5%, the cost of $6 of credit is 30 cents per year. If it produces $1 of GDP growth, that extra output would need a 30% profit margin to break even. Not very likely.

And the good news just continues to pour in from the housing sector. RealtyTrac reported this morning that bank seizures of U.S. homes have risen 184% since the group began tracking this data in 2005. Banks have repossessed close to 3 times the amount of homes in the United States, when compared to last year’s stats.

One in four houses sold in America today is sold at a loss, says a report on CNNMoney. That totes up to a lot of losses for the whole financial chain…the homeowner, the mortgage company, the builder, the real estate agent, and the investor who bought a mortgage-backed security.

This epic rise in foreclosures is depressing home values throughout the country. The S&P/Case-Shiller index shows that home prices fell 15.8% in May.

Real estate website reports that in the year leading up to June 30, almost 25% of all homes sold in the United States pulled in less than the seller originally paid. reports: "In Merced, Calif., 63% of homes sold during the past 12 months brought in less than what the owner paid. Prices there have fallen 40% over the past 12 months and 56% from their 2006 peak.

"About 63% of sellers in Stockton, Calif., lost money during the same period, 60% in Modesto, Calif., 55% in Las Vegas and 38% in Phoenix.

"And the trend has worsened in recent months. In Merced, 74.9% of sellers took a loss when they sold during the three months ended June 30 compared with just 28.7% during the same period in 2007."

The bottom is still not in view – says, "With $3.9 million unsold homes on the market, prices will have to come down even more before the market stabilizes."

We can all agree that many things need to occur to stabilize the U.S. economy as a whole – and there may be more of these ‘supershocks’ to the system on the way. There’s no reason, however, for you to not make a little money in the meantime. Our friends at Strategic Investment have put together a Financial Survival Library – and it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to stay afloat in the current market climate.

*** While the United States may be in greater trouble than the markets realize, China may be in less. In other words, the slump in the West may not be so soft. In the East, it may not be in a slump at all.

Retail sales in the United States are falling, but sales in China are going up at 23% per year. Even after inflation, they’re going up at 15% – the fastest pace in 9 years. Sales of gasoline are increasing at a 55% annual rate.

Incomes are rising too – real, after inflation incomes are going up at an 8% annual rate.

In other words, maybe China is not slowing down very much, after all.

Remember, if these big, emerging economies can continue to grow, it will keep the pressure on prices for raw materials. This then makes the situation worse for Americans; they pay more for food and fuel…even as their incomes and assets fall in price.

*** "Oh yes, we met a couple of years ago," said a new friend at a party last night. "You said to buy gold. At the time I thought it was a little flakey…buying gold, that is. But then the price went up…and I thought of you."

"Well, it isn’t going up now," we replied. "But we wouldn’t give up on it. Not yet. Most analysts think the crisis in the financial sector is pretty much over. They think we’ve seen the worst. They don’t expect any more major banking failures. They think the dollar is coming back. And they expect the rate of inflation to moderate. They’re looking for a huge soft landing for the entire world economy.

"But financial analysis, at least on this kind of macro level, is mostly fraud. It’s impossible to keep track of all the various inputs – many of them purely psychological or emotional – and make a logical judgment about what will happen. You can form an opinion. But your opinion is usually driven by some kind of philosophical prejudice. Say, for example, you just don’t like to see all those Wall Street hotshots making huge bonuses for doing something that you know is mostly a kind of razz-ma-tazz designed to wow the little guys in the market. Then, you’re sure that they’re going to get their comeuppance, one way or another. So you look around and try to find justifications for your point of view. And there are so many facts and theories around, you can always find whatever you’re looking for.

"You know, things in the financial markets have been going very well for a very long time. Major stock market indices are down only about 15% from record highs. No major economy is even – for now – in a recession. Unemployment in the U.S. still hasn’t risen to 6%. Gold is no higher than it was 28 years ago – in nominal terms. People still lend money to the world’s biggest debtor – the U.S. government – at only 3.94% for 10 years. And the dollar is still taken as a ‘store of value,’ even though there are trillions of them in central bank vaults…and a whole rickety tower of dollar-based credits reaching up to the sun.

"But investors talk as though it were the end of the world. It’s not. It’s only the beginning of a major correction…and probably, only the beginning of the beginning.

"And when it is over, people will want more than 10% yield before they will lend to the feds. The world’s monetary system will probably have collapsed and been replaced with something new. Stocks will probably sell for less than 8 times earnings. Ten percent of the U.S. population will probably have gone bust – that’s 30 million people. And gold will probably sell for more than $2,000 an ounce.

"Of course," we had to admit, "between here and there, anything could happen."

*** "Won’t these string beans ever stop?" our cook wanted to know. She’s already filled the freezer with them…and already stuffed every jar we own with canned green beans. And she’s served them up at every meal in every possible way. Fried. Steamed. Grilled. Boiled. Braised. In soufflés. In casseroles. In soups. In stews. In salads. She’s probably slipped them into some desserts too, but we didn’t detect them.

Damien had just come up to the kitchen with another 5-gallon bucket full of them.

"Oh no…not more green beans," said Edward. "We eat green beans all the time. I’ll never want to see another green bean as long as I live."

"Then don’t look in the pantry," said the cook.

Until tomorrow,

Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning